Mining magnate plans rebel Indo-Pacific competition
Sydney - Mining magnate Andrew "Twiggy" Forrest
announced plans on Tuesday for a rebel Indo-Pacific rugby competition after the
Western Force lost a legal appeal against their axing from Super Rugby.
Forrest, a billionaire backer of the club's parent body
RugbyWA, said six teams would initially be involved, including the Force, with
the league starting "as soon as possible".
"It will involve key countries across the Indo-Pacific
region who have approached us or who have publicly stated their deep conviction
to rugby if they could be included in an Indo-Pacific arena," he said in
"We will include strong and deeply powerful players,
broadcasters and fans of rugby all across the Indo-Pacific region where some 60
percent of the world's people live on our time-frame right here in Western
Forrest, founder and chairperson of Fortescue Metals, said he
planned to kick off the competition with an international game.
"You may be assured I don't let the grass grow under my
feet. It will be as soon as possible and certainly much faster, I think, than
the ARU could ever organise," he said.
Forrest has been an outspoken critic of the Australian Rugby
Union and the handling of its decision to axe one of five Australian teams in
the Super Rugby competition.
The Perth-based Force were informed they would be cut last
month and on Tuesday the NSW Supreme Court in Sydney dismissed their appeal.
They had appealed an original court decision that a new
SANZAAR broadcast deal for 15 teams was legally binding, therefore nullifying an
agreement between the ARU and the Force guaranteeing them survival until the
end of 2020.
SANZAAR, the governing body of Super Rugby, decided to
reduce the competition after the unwieldy four-conference 18-team model lost
favour with fans and led to a slump in television viewers.
The ARU then announced that it would assess the business
cases of the Force and the Melbourne Rebels, before deciding the Perth
franchise would be culled.
Forrest did not say which clubs he was targeting for his
rebel league, but said he would be encouraging South Africa and other teams to
"come across" from SANZAAR.
"I think SANZAAR has obviously been a very clear
mistake for Australian rugby," he said.
"Shrinking the game as opposed to growing its
grassroots, broadening its financial base, making it a powerful game is what
good leadership should do.
"So I would be encouraging South Africa and other teams
to come across. Indo-Pacific is a massive economy, broadcasters need huge
populations and huge economies.
"They are not represented in SANZAAR necessarily with
New Zealand, South Africa and Australia dominating it.
"But if we get up into the Indo-Pacific region, that's
where all the world's economic growth is, that's where the world's population
is and that's where the game of rugby will be very powerful and centred from